THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tuesday was the day ‘Maman’, the 60-year old Greater Adjutant bird, had been waiting eagerly for since he came to the city zoo. A day, on which he could expand his wings without the constraints of an iron enclosure. Besides he could mingle with the female stork, which the zoo keepers never bothered to name, and the other water birds.
The new aquatic aviary built around a one acre pond has 43 water birds like ‘Maman’, who of course is the most friendly one according to his care takers. The stork with a massive wedge-shaped bill, a bare head and a distinctive neck pouch is already popular among the birds.
Twelve types of water birds including the Oriental White Ibis, Painted Stork, Rosy Pelican, Grey Pelican, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Egret, Oriental Darter, White Stork, Night Heron and the Adjutant Stork seemed to like their new home.
The aquatic aviary is a welcome change for the visitors, many of who are going to come visiting after the exams. The formerly sad faced birds, can now be seen taking full advantage of the expanded enclosure. There are trees with nests inside the enclosure.
Primary school children from Peerappancode Government LP school were among the first visitors to see the new facility while their seniors were busy with examination. They watched the large birds take flight, flutter wings and bath from outside the glass gallery.
“The city zoo was not affected by the avian influenza which led to the closure of many zoos. We have a fresh stock and it will multiply,” said the Zoo veterinarian Dr Jacob Alexander. The pond ecosystem is in the final stages of completion.
The zoo has a lake near the aviary which is the favourite spot for many migratory birds. There are 61 species of free flying birds. The total number of birds comes to around 20,000. Besides there are 105 types of butterflies.
A few meters away from the aviary the Himalayan bears - Dhima and Kohi are preparing themselves for a life in the open. The female bear is showing signs of stress. The two year old cubs were brought from Nagaland two months back in exchange for a pair of Bengal tigers.
“They do fight often, especially during feeding time. But they are not very violent. When they were released in the open enclosure the bears gladly climbed the trees,” said Dr Jacob. According to him the cubs which were reared in Nagaland have adjusted well to the climate here.
However, no one has got an expansive enclosure like that of the lone otter in the zoo. It has been given the renovated glass enclosure that belonged to the crocodiles.
The otter was brought to the zoo by snake catcher and animal activist Vava Suresh from Thirunelveli. More otters will be brought after the enclosure is completed. The zoo is also going to change the enclosures of the cockatoos and macaws. Young visitors will get to see porcupine cubs and Rhea chick this time.
The zoo has plans to bring a hyena from Kanpur soon. There has been proposals to bring giraffe, zebra, white lion and jaguar too. At present the zoo struggles to contain the population of deer - sambar, spotted and hog deer. Swamp deers were brought from Lucknow recently.
Forest Minister to inaugurate
Forest minister K Raju will inaugurate the new facilities such as the aquatic aviary, and the enclosure of the otter on March 17. Also the Himalayan bears will be released to the open enclosure on that day. K Muraleedharan MLA will preside over the function.